Like the Toussaint LOuverture portrait pitchers, face jugs made in the
nineteenth-century American South are difficult to interpret. Also known as
"ugly jugs," "voodoo pots," and "monkey jars,"
these objects may seem to be a form of early racist imagery. Yet many of the
earliest examples were in fact made by African-American potters in the Edgefield
District of South Carolina. These face jugs compare closely to some African
ceramic face vessels with similar bulging white eyes and oversized facial
African-American pottersand certainly the white potters who later copied
the face jug formmay not have retained the original religious or symbolic
meaning of the art form. These powerful objects nonetheless speak eloquently
to the survival of African cultural traditions in early America.